Will Ferrell's Land of the Lost movie took the original television show in a weird new direction. Ferrell plunked a version of his famous character from Anchorman into a science fiction landscape - and it worked.
In many ways, the movie is a recreation of the original TV series with this serious characters taken out and replaced by goofballs who make a lot of pop culture references. Ferrell and company satirize the original show, but most of all they satirize themselves.
I was a big fan of the Krofft Super Show series where Land of the Lost debuted in the 1970s. It was a fun kids' series about an alternative universe full of dinosaurs and lizard aliens, and somebody was always being chomped or threatened with being chomped. Although the show was whimsical, it was sort of like the recent Journey To The Center of the Earth - goofy but snarkless. I couldn't imagine how Will Ferrell's adolescent humor would translate into this universe.
But it did, effortlessly. Instead of a nice dad and his two kids trapped in a dinosaur-packed landscape, we have a self important scientist (who is basically the anchorman, but with time travel on his mind), the hot Oxford graduate student (Holly, played a rather woodenly by Anna Friel) who believes in him, and a sideshow operator (Will, played by Danny Mcbride) whose goal in life is to build a mega casino. Through an accident that involves show tunes and a broken down roadside attraction, the three of them wind up on an alternate Earth where the past, present and future are intertwined. And that's when things get really awesome.
Chaka, the cute primate of the TV series, has been turned into a horny adolescent. The sleestaks are still bulgy-eyed lizard people, but they're kind of scary too. And Dr. Rick Marshall, played by Ferrell with deadpan pizzazz, is the perfect satirical white explorer without a clue. He immediately tries to establish himself as Chaka's master (though Chaka hardly takes him seriously), and is constantly making incorrect proclamations about everything around them. There's a great moment when he thinks the sleestak are guarding when they're actually about to "hit that ass." And even on alternate earth, he can't escape a humiliation he suffered on YouTube.
Part of the fun in this flick is watching Ferrell turn science fiction stereotypes of the intrepid explorer upside down. The other part of that fun is watching him dance to show tunes, pour dinosaur urine all over himself so that his scent will "blend in," and make an ill-advised deal with an alien wearing a tunic. As Will points out wisely, tunics are always bad news.
The plot, such as it is, is pretty simple. The gang falls into an alternate dimension, with the help of Rick's tachyon-enhanced time travel device, and now they need to get the device back if they want to go home. In addition the tunic - wearing alien has told them that an evil alien will use the device to invade earth with his terrible army of lizard aliens. So it's a race against time, and also, strangely, a test of banjo improvisation. Hey, it's Will Ferrell - what do you want?
Somehow along the way we manage to have drug induced male bonding. And boob grabbing. Plus a wide array of poop jokes, which culminate in the biggest poop joke of all. But that's a major spoiler and I won't give it away.
A few scenes go on a bit too long (the drug scene springs to mind), and you may be irritated by the fact that many of the jokes are at the expense of women. But despite this most of the bits are genuinely funny, and I predict you'll be repeating lines from the movie for days afterward. In fact, if you're looking for good science fiction fun this weekend I would recommend Land of the Lost over Terminator 4 any day of the week.